The burden of behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Europe. A significant prevention deficit

Maria Vassilaki, Manolis Linardakis, Donna M. Polk, Anastas Philalithis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: The study objective was to assess the burden of major cardiovascular disease (CVD) behavioral risk factors (BRFs) (i.e., smoking, excess body weight, physical inactivity, risky alcohol consumption) among individuals in the community with and without CVD history. Methods: For the current study, a subset of the data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) was analyzed, which were collected from 26,743 individuals aged 50 + years old, during the 1st wave of SHARE in 2004/05 in eleven European countries. Results: Among those with CVD, there is a statistically significant higher percentage of inactive individuals (81.4% vs. 69.5 among those without CVD), and of individuals with excess body weight (64.3%) or obese (21.6%). Patients with CVD had a lower prevalence of smoking and risky alcohol consumption in most countries, whereas the prevalence of high body weight and physical inactivity was higher in CVD patients compared to individuals without CVD in almost all countries. More than half of the population has at least two BRFs, with a significantly higher prevalence of multiple BRFs among those diagnosed with CVD. Conclusion: Study findings suggest that a significant burden of behavioral risk factors for CVD remains in the population overall but also among patients diagnosed with CVD. Given the significant prevalence of BRFs, the prevention benefits would be immense for all stakeholders involved and negligence would be perilous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-332
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Behavioral risk factors
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Prevalence
  • SHARE study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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